Penn State Class of 2012: Reasons for Excitement on Defense

STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 8: Penn State students cheer on the Penn State Nittany Lions during the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes on October 8, 2011 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, we took a look at the incoming freshmen that we are most excited about on offense. Today we examine the defensive side of the ball and discuss some of the guys we expect to excel in the next area of Penn State football.

Chris: Derek Dowrey (DL). Yes, I readily admit to being one of the "who the hell?" guys when Dowrey committed out of nowhere, after he impressed Larry Johnson Sr. at a PSU football camp. At the time, Dowrey's offers included West Virginia and a bunch of lower-level schools such as East Carolina, Marshall, and Richmond. However, Dowrey was insanely productive at Handley High School, with 107 tackles and 13.5 sacks from a nose tackle position. That performance backed up the 273 tackles and 18.5 sacks of his prior two seasons. The fact that he looks like a bully out of Dazed And Confused only adds to his potential legend.

Adam: Da'Quan Davis (CB). We already have one corner from Calvert Hall College High School. Let's make it two. Davis will be required to contribute early in a defensive backfield with extremely questionable depth. That doesn’t mean his sophomore year, that means now. Unlike the Tom Bradley defenses of the last 11 years, Ted Roof’s newly styled 4-3 has a heavy focus on man coverage. Those are skills that Davis developed in his 7-on-7 career. Adrian Amos 2.0? Maybe, and if so, we'll be much better off.

Devon: Nyeem Wartman (LB). Everyone who followed Penn State's recruiting knew that Camren Williams wasn't just a linebacker we'd be rooting for on Saturdays, but a cheerleader for Penn State on Sunday through Friday. Funny how things work out. But in his stead, Nyeem Wartman rose to the challenge as the most visible leader among Penn State's recruits--at least and especially on Twitter, where he's not only looked to rally the troops, but also set a positive example for anyone who's watching. Yes, he's another linebacker, and yes, he was one of Penn State's more highly-touted prospects, but if 140-character bursts can tell us anything, it's that as good as a linebacker he may turn out to be, he'll be an even better ambassador for the Nittany Lion program.

Cari: Jamil Pollard (DT). I was so close to jumping on the Wartman bandwagon (Zug knows I love me a Linebacker) but I couldn't pass up this big guy. With his known issues a year ago (being offered, and then having the offer pulled due to academic issues), then working his butt off to get that offer again, then committing right after IT when so many people ("fans", other schools, media) were saying we were a tainted program...This kid really wanted to be a Nittany Lion, and because of that, I really want him to succeed here. And, being a DT under LJ Sr is, for so many, a clear recipe for success.

Jeff: Da'Quan Davis (CB). Have you seen the depth chart in the defensive backfield? Davis is the most likely of the 2012 commits to make an early presence in the secondary, and is also the first cornerback recruited under the new Ted Roof defense. He is an aggressive CB who can play in the bump-and-run style that Roof is likely to bring.

Jared: Evan Schwan (DE). While I think Jamil Pollard will have the best career of this group, I'm really anxious to see what Schwan can do. The Harrisbrg native came back from a broken vertebrae to lead Central Dauphin to a state championship, racking up 78 tackles and 17 sacks along the way. Several other programs cooled on Schwan following the major injury in his junior year, which will no doubt help motivate him to excel at Penn State. High-motor DE + a chip on his shoulder + playing for one of the best DL coaches in the nation? That sure sounds like a recipe for success to me.

Dan: Nyeem Wartman (LB). Devon couldn't have said it any better. His attitude has seemed to be contagious when you see his interactions with other recruits and he has all the tools to become the next torch-bearer of Linebacker U. Give him a couple of years under Vandy and he'll be in the same company as Poz, Connor, Lee and Bowman.

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